In 2008, homosexuality, or consensual sex acts among adults of the same sex, was still illegal in 86 member states of the United Nations. These include large countries such as India and Nigeria. (There’s a world map here). In 9 of these countries, e.g. Iran, the act is even punishable by death. Every year, hundreds of LGBT people are killed because of their sexual orientation, some by the state, others by lynch mobs.
Here’s an overview by region:
(source, click image to enlarge)
The wording of the laws which make homosexuality a crime is often bizarre:
- “carnal intercourse against the order of nature”
- “gross indecency”
- “unnatural offences”
- and the best of all: “unlawful sexual relations per anum”.
These “sodomy laws” obviously have consequences for human rights. The rights to privacy and equality of LGBT persons are obviously violated by these laws. As well as the right to life in extreme cases. Sexual conduct between consenting adults is a private matter in which no one, especially not the state, should interfere.
State sponsored homophobia also shapes social attitudes and promotes social homophobia. How can a state do something about social violence against gays if the state itself oppresses them? On top of that, sodomy laws make HIV/AIDS prevention much harder, with possibly wide-ranging public health consequences. The criminalization of homosexuality pushes homosexuals underground and makes it impossible to educate them about HIV/AIDS. The defenders of sodomy laws say that such laws do not only enforce “morality”, but also help to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. But that’s just a figleaf for bigotry.